Prototyping Content

Prototyping Content

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

I don’t know anyone who would literally eat an elephant, of course. But as a creative or creator, you’re sure to take on projects requiring significantly more work than a blog post – newsletters, eBooks, whitepapers, reports, books, and more.

I don’t know about you, but this is where I find most of the money is made. It’s all well and good to get nickeled and dimed by the Mediums and News Breaks of the world, but I would argue that your ticket to establishing a steady income as a writer is usually on the other side of ghostwriting, staff writing, creating products (like newsletters, books, and courses) – basically, something you can put a higher price tag on.

The challenging part, of course, is in gathering and organizing your research, writing, editing, and sustaining your attention and energy long enough to finish the project.

Setting deadlines can help, but at times, even the pressure of a looming completion date isn’t enough.

This is where prototyping content can help.

Prototyping Content?

I’m not necessarily talking about anything revolutionary here. There are several practitioners who create infoproducts and books this way already, and I share several examples below.

But the idea is to use the time you typically spend writing blog posts, prototyping the content that will ultimately go into your eBook (or other product) in bite-size chunks.

You can still publish what you write, because that can create opportunities to double-, and even triple-dip into the same asset.

One of the most famous examples is Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, who wrote a blog series called 31 Days to Build a Better Blog and turned it into an infoproduct.

Rowse was initially worried that the eBook might not sell, because all the content was available for free on his blog, but it turns out his audience appreciated having it all in one convenient place.

Content marketing authority Joe Pulizzi made it his goal to write a new book every two years, and he basically followed the same process Rowse did, breaking down the project into bite-size chunks, and writing the content that would ultimately go into the book week by week.

And by the way, Content Inc. (affiliate link) by Pulizzi is one of my all-time favorite books.

When I was working on my third book, The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship, I also decided to create a table of contents first, and then tackle the topics one by one, publishing 1,200-word blog posts on Music Entrepreneur HQ.

Of course, I added an introduction and conclusion, additional resources, and even edited the content a bit before publishing. But that book went onto become an Amazon best-seller.

I’ve also been prototyping membership content lately. This post and this post are great examples.

Some of the content I’ve prototyped never went anywhere. But that’s okay. That’s the great thing about prototyping – if it doesn’t live up to your expectations, you can scrap it, or just publish it as a blog post.

Am I Cheating My Audience if I Publish the Content I’m Planning to Sell to Them?

If there’s anything we can learn from Rowse and Pulizzi’s examples, it’s that no one felt cheated when they repurposed their content.

Even marketing god Seth Godin did this with his book, Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck? (affiliate link), compiling the blog posts he wrote between 2006 and 2012.

Even if you don’t have a massive audience, there are probably people who wish they were able to hold your content in their hands. And that’s easy to do with platforms like Amazon KDP.

My first experience with this was my second book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship, which was originally a free, long-form guide I published online.

All I did was take the content, edit it, add a new section, compile a few blog posts, and voila! I had a new book.

I was concerned about response, but since I’ve released it, I’ve received nothing but praise.

So, there’s a good chance you could be leveraging your content in ways you haven’t already thought of, and not get any backlash for it.

And don’t forget – whatever you publish is just a prototype. You can further edit, improve, and refine the content before selling it.

Final Thoughts

Since I’ve started publishing daily, not prototyping content seems like utter lunacy.

When writing for sites like Medium and News Break, the article is the product. But that’s not much fun unless everyone and their dog is reading your stuff. There are other ways of creating an income writing, and they might prove easier besides.

I’ve never been accused of not knowing all my possible revenue streams, and I’m constantly thinking about how to leverage and make the most of everything I’ve got.

So, if you’ve ever wondered whether you can do more with the content you’ve created, now you know the answer is “yes.”

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3 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2021

3 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success in 2021

For me, the last four months of 2020 were kind of tough. That said, I still learned a great deal that is now benefiting me in a significant way.

In this post, I wanted to share some of my discoveries with you. If you take these to heart and implement them in your creative workflow, you will set yourself up for more success in 2021.

1. Level Up Your Association

I’ve talked about how I accidentally weaned myself off social media before.

But now when I go on social media, I see it as an opportunity to hang out with my Dream 100 and learn from them.

For example:

On Twitter, Ty Frankel (you can find my podcast interview with Ty here) is always dropping value bombs on how to build a six-figure agency. And I’m learning lots from the way Ralph Smart shares and promotes his content.

On Medium, I’ve picked up quite a bit from Tom Kuegler and his Medium strategies (and yes, they are working!). I learn from his headlines and content ideas as well.

The point is that, while social media can be a blackhole of stupidity, if you follow and model the right people, and interact with them, you can learn plenty and create valuable connections.

It takes some work to curate your feed (that’s something I should write a post on as well), but if you do this, you will think bigger, set bigger goals, and accomplish more. That’s the power of leveling up your association.

2. Publish Daily

For me, publishing daily is not a decision. I wake up every day knowing that I will publish. This is in service of my future self, as I know I will look back on it later glad I made the decision.

This isn’t to suggest that you must publish long-form, definitive, comprehensive, skyscraper guides all the time. To me, their conversion rates are a little suspect anyway.

My average post is somewhere in the 900- to 1,300-word range, but I’m not saying you’ve got to go to those lengths, either. By the way, I also publish my share of 100- to 500-word posts.

Your posts can be long and detailed, if need be, or they can also be short and pithy. It’s a matter of how many words you need to get your point across – not how much you can pad your content.

It’s a matter of how many words you need to get your point across – not how much you can pad your content. Click To Tweet

Derek Sivers and Seth Godin publish their share of short form content, and you will find that this is the exact approach they use – they focus on the message, not on the word count!

You can take a cue from Sivers or Godin, or even Austin Kleon, who tends to share more visual content with some commentary wrapped around it.

But what is the benefit of publishing daily?

My friend Chris Naish started publishing comics on January 1, 2020. On December 15, he announced that he’d drawn 200+ comics and gained 18,000 followers on Instagram (congrats, man)!

Chris Naish comics

I’m not going to make any promises regarding what publishing daily will do for you, as I don’t have any standout results to report on after 161 days of consecutive publishing.

Then again, I am still refining, and I was able to 5x my Medium income, even though it’s still small.

The point is that if you are a creative or creator, you will always have something to promote or share with the world. And publishing daily can help you build a following and get your projects in front of more people.

Publishing daily can help you build a following and get your projects in front of more people. Click To Tweet

3. Plan Your Weeks

I’ve been doing #StrategySunday planning sessions for a little over a month now. I’ve even shared about how these sessions can improve your life.

Although I’m a big believer in following my heart, using my intuition, and even leaving large unplanned gaps in my schedule, there’s simply no denying that planning has made me more productive overall.

Again, I’m not suggesting that you follow my example to a tee and plan on a Sunday. You can do what works for you.

Sunday works for me because of my publishing schedule, which I’ve detailed on my about page.

Although I believe in being in action, it’s also good to take a step back and think. When you do, you can:

  • Determine how to structure your week for productivity
  • Achieve more clarity on your goals
  • Brainstorm tactics and ideas
  • Eliminate tasks from your to-do list that aren’t high priority
  • Attain a big picture view of everything you need to do and what matters to you most
  • Create a routine that serves you
  • Cut unneeded expenses and increase your spend on winning tactics
  • And more

Just don’t force yourself to do something out of obligation. You probably won’t follow through on it.

Do everything (or as much as you can) on your own terms. That way, all your efforts will be in service of you and not the other way around.

Do everything on your own terms. That way, all your efforts will be in service of you and not the other way around. Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

As you look to create new habits in 2021, keep it simple, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. In most cases, working on one high level habit (until it is fully integrated), is of greater benefit to you than trying to work on 10 habits at once, because there’s a good chance you will give up.

Find what works for you and keep doing it, because at the end of the day, what works for another may not work for you.

What are you doing to set yourself up for success in 2021?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Publishing Daily is Not a Decision

Publishing Daily is Not a Decision

I’ve shared about the fact that I’ve been publishing daily since the end of July.

And if you’ve been keeping an eye on my Medium feed, then you already know what’s up.

But why prioritize publishing? Don’t I have better things to do? Don’t I have higher priorities?

Here’s why I’m publishing daily.

I’m Sharing My Story

We’ve all got a story to share.

I’ve experienced all kinds of things in this lifetime – major earthquakes, the death of my father, writing five books, and a great deal more.

There’s no value in a story never told. But there’s always value in stories shared, even if they only ever touch, move, or inspire one person.

Stories can be instructive, insightful, entertaining, educational, and more.

My story may never be told to large audiences. But if some aspect of it resonates with a few people, that’s more than enough. And if it can make their lives better, nothing could possibly make me happier.

I’m Putting What I Know into Practice

Author of Show Your Work! Austin Kleon suggests artists set up a website with a custom domain and blog every day about their creativity.

Author Seth Godin talks about showing up. And true to his word, he shows up daily. Publishing daily is not a decision for him (more on that later).

Marketer Russell Brunson claims publishing daily will solve all your business problems. I don’t know whether that’s true, but I do like the sound of it.

So, I’m putting something I know to do into practice. Because I’m an artist. And love creating. And I can’t imagine not creating.

I need a portal where I can share everything I create. That’s what this is.

I’m Documenting My Journey & Answering Questions

Hopefully, by documenting my journey and answering your questions, I’m adding value to you. That’s the idea, know it or not.

I can gather that you’re not going to read everything I publish. That’s a given.

But publishing daily gives me a presence. So, you’re less likely to forget about me completely.

And if I’ve added value to you, you’re likely to return for more.

It’s not strictly about building traffic or a following, though that might be a desirable byproduct of publishing daily.

It’s just a way of saying “this is what I’m doing – if you want to, you can do it too.”

I have a vague sense of my purpose in this world, and that’s to inspire people. But you can’t be inspiring without being inspirational. And that means showing up and doing the work.

Being prolific or not isn’t the point. Because I’ve written a few garbage stories since I started publishing daily.

It’s about being available. Being a source of information. Helping people see new possibilities.

I’m Sharing My Works

I have many creative works I think are worth sharing, and many people don’t know about them.

I’ve written five books.

I have two albums, two EPs, and six singles.

And I also have eBooks, courses, a YouTube channel (or two), a podcast, and more.

These things are worth sharing. Not in a “look at me – I’m awesome” kind of way. Not even in a “buy all my stuff” kind of way. More in a “here’s something you might enjoy” kind of way.

Publishing Daily, Final Thoughts

Seth Godin often talks about the fact that certain aspects of his life are “not a decision.”

Each of us have limited willpower and it continually diminishes throughout the day. So, when he says it’s not a decision, he’s saying he doesn’t have to think about certain decisions in his daily life. He just goes and does what he’s chosen to do. This keeps his life optimized.

That’s why publishing daily is not a decision to me. I’m going to do it. And it might seem crazy, or irresponsible, or unreasonable, or unnecessary. The great news is I will enjoy myself either way! And I hope you will too.

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